For nearly two weeks, Holly Suzanne Courtier was stranded somewhere in Utah’s 229-square-mile Zion National Park. She was weak, dehydrated, hungry and alone, according to her daughter — unable to cry for help or even get on her feet.
But on Sunday, in a stunning turn of events, Courtier was discovered and reunited with her family, according to the National Park Service.
The circumstances of Courtier’s disappearance and ordeal were still largely unclear as of Monday afternoon. But in a statement, Courtier’s daughter filled in some of the gaps, describing an agonizing and brutal experience.
“Early in her trip into Zion, she injured her head on a tree,” Kailey Chambers said of her mother. “She was very disoriented as a result and thankfully ended up near a water source — a river bed. She thought her best chance of survival was to stay next to a water source.”
Chambers said that her mother was “too weak and disoriented to actively seek out help,” and that she was “without food” for the 12 days she was lost in Zion.
“She was unable to take more than a step or two without collapsing,” Chambers said. “She told me she was so dehydrated she couldn’t open her mouth.”
Chambers said that her mother’s recovery was the family’s “top priority right now,” and that her mother was “getting her strength back and hydrating.”
“She has been getting fluids because she was extremely dehydrated, and we are slowly introducing foods,” Chambers said.
Chambers thanked the public for their support and expressed thanks to “everyone who helped find her.”
Additional information about how Courtier vanished and survived, or where she was found, was not immediately available.
In a statement released Monday evening, Zion National Park said the National Park Service was “delighted in being able to reunite Ms. Courtier with her family.”
The park added that Courtier was found in a “thickly vegetated area” along the Virgin River after what it described as a credible tip to law enforcement officers.
In an apparent contradiction of the way Courtier’s daughter described her mother’s physical condition, the park said Courtier “was able to leave of her own capability with minimal assistance.”
Courtier, 38, was found in the park after a visitor saw her and alerted rangers, the National Park Service said in a statement Sunday.
Courtier, who lives in Los Angeles, disappeared after a private shuttle dropped her off on Oct. 6 at the Grotto park area inside the national park. She was scheduled to be picked up later that afternoon but didn’t show up, park officials said.
The search included K-9 units and federal, state and local rescue teams, as well as volunteers.